The emergence of the underground
church of China over the last 30 years has dramatically changed the
composition and make-up of the international ecclesia: with their large
numbers, experience with persecution, faith in supernatural intervention,
oriental history, emphasis on house churches, and the "back to Jerusalem"
vision. Because of their "family-ancestor" culture, they also bring a
unique view of "extended family" order to the international Body of
Messiah. Their presence has changed our ecclesiology
(understanding of the meaning and form of the international church).
Chinese and international leaders, coordinated by David Demian, brought
thousands of Christians to worship the Lord in Jerusalem in November 2014
- inspired by Zechariah 8:22, "many peoples and strong nations shall
come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem ..." David Demian is an
Egyptian Arab, and there was wide representation not only from East Asian
churches and Western churches, but also Arab Christians. At that
conference, and in subsequent "Global Gatherings", Messianic Jewish
leaders from Israel came on the stage to honor our Arab Christian
brothers and sisters, and kneeled down in repentance for our own sins of
pride and unfaithfulness. The result was rather shocking. The Arab
Christians were deeply touched by the display of love and humility;
almost stunned to find themselves being blessed by Messianic Jews.
A Ruth Vow
David responded by leading the entire international community represented
there (including Chinese and Arabs) in a "Ruth" covenantal vow to the
Jewish people, that "Your people will be my people" (Ruth 1:16).
I felt this moment to be an historic turning point. Until now,
those who had a "Ruth calling" were seen only as minority Christians whom
the Lord had touched with a special love and loyalty to the Jewish
Because of the involvement of both Chinese and Arab Christians in this
covenantal commitment, a spiritual shift is taking place. The
"Ruth calling" is not to be the exception but the rule, not something
unusual but the norm, not the minority but the majority. Ruth should
represent a picture of ALL true Christians.
This gives a new perspective on what we would call a "Ruth Ecclesiology":
The International Church Ecclesia is essentially connected to Israel.
This connection comes by covenant with the God of Israel through the
Messiah of Israel (Ephesians 2:12, 19). The connection between Israel and
the Church is redefining them both as to their original biblical meaning:
The essence of the identity of Israel is a godly nation that is
extended spiritually into the other nations through the Church; and the
Church is essentially an international spiritual body rooted in Israel as
its point of origin. The identity of the Church is linked to Israel;
and the identity of Israel is linked to the Church.
Dan Juster has called this "the dual restoration of Israel and the
Church." It links Israel-ology and Ecclesiology into one. We
believe this to be the original view of the apostles toward Israel and
the Church. In our day, this apostolic view of "ecclesiology" is being
restored. The Messianic Jewish "Remnant" plays a bridging role of being
the Church within Israel, and Israel within the Church.
Today and Tomorrow
A restorationist view of ecclesiology also has an effect on one's
eschatology (study of the End Times). Ecclesiology affects Eschatology.
Restorationist ecclesiology should lead to a restorationist eschatology.
How we view Israel and the Church today affects how we see End
Times prophecies being fulfilled tomorrow. If Israel and the
Church are connected to one another in their origin, they will be
connected to one another in their destiny.
This shared identity affects how we see the coming of the kingdom of God.
We could say, "Israel plus the Church equals the Kingdom of God." Or,
"the relationship between Israel and the Church gives birth to the
Kingdom of God on Earth."
The books of Ruth and Esther describe real historic events, but may also
be seen as parables with prophetic meaning. Ruth contains a message about
the relationship between Israel and the Church. This is what we call
"Ruth Ecclesiology". In a similar fashion, the book of Esther contains a
message about the End Times. We call this: "Esther Eschatology".
The life stories of these two women contain the unfolding mystery of
Israel and the Church, and of End Times prophecies.
Esther may be seen as a symbol of the Church, the bride of Messiah. She
is sharing intimacy, grace and beauty with her husband, the King. But
then a crisis occurs. Esther is called to the kingdom "for such a time
as this" (Esther 4:14). And what "time" is that? It is a time of
unprecedented international crisis. And what is that crisis? - an
attempt to kill all the Jews.
The attempt to kill the Jews happens not only at the hands of Haman
(Esther 3:6), but also Pharaoh (Exodus 1:16), Herod (Matthew 2:16) and in
the End Times (Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 13-14). Spiritual warfare
ultimately climaxes in an attempt to kill the Jews. We can see this
genocidal tendency both in Nazism and in Islamic Jihad. In the end times,
an attempt to kill the Jews could very well target all. Christians who
believe in Yeshua as the King of the Jews, or see themselves aligned with
the nation of Israel.
Interestingly, the description of Haman in Esther 3:7; 8:1; 9:10,24 is
"Tsorer" which is the word
commonly used in modern Hebrew for "Antichrist" and the root of the Old
Testament word for the "Tribulation". Haman may be seen as an Antichrist
figure in this End Times parable of the coming Tribulation.
Esther is warned by Mordechai in a prophetic message of the urgency for
her to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews during this
worldwide crisis. She is at first reluctant to hear what seems to be an
overly intense and negative message. She even tries to make excuses to
avoid her own involvement in the crisis, but Mordechai is persistent to
show her the necessity of her role in intercession.
The Warning Demands a Response
For years apostolic and prophetic voices have been trying to warn about
the upcoming impending crisis and tribulations. Many believers seem
uninterested. Still others have been taught that they will not have a
part in this crisis because they will have already been raptured to
heaven. We don't see it this way at all. For this reason, we have
yearly organized an "Esther's fast" with local Arab Christians and
Messianic Jews here in Israel, broadcasted by live stream to partners and
prayer warriors around the world (Esther 4:16).
Many have not grasped the urgency of this "Esther-type" view of the end
times. Perhaps it sounds too intense, too negative, too Jewish.
The Good News
However, the story has a happy ending! After an extremely difficult time
of intercession, tribulation and spiritual warfare, there is a sudden and
miraculous intervention of God that affects the entire world. The
murderous decree is cancelled. The evil forces are destroyed (9:17).
History is changed. A great revival takes place. Many "join
themselves" to the Jews (Esther 9:27).
Finally, the righteous take possession of the government over all
the nations (8:2, 9:3, 10:3). All the people are made happy. Peace
abounds and feasts are celebrated. This is a beautiful picture of the
kingdom of God on earth. Purim is a time of great joy. Let's join
together in this Esther and Mordecai calling for spiritual battle
to win the victory in the end times.
This article was previously published as a two-part series on
25Feb16 and 03Mar16
on the Revive Israel website and on 01Mar16 and 15Mar16
on Kehila News Israel.